Placing proven engineer Phil Keed alongside driver Scott Pye is proving a masterstroke for Team 18.
Previously Fabian Coulthard’s long-time engineer, Keed joined Team 18 last year to spearhead their engineering department but found himself back working directly on a race car following the COVID-19 break as a result of new team personnel restrictions.
Keed slotted in for Matthew Saunders and, after a slow start, has overseen a dramatic upswing in Pye’s performances.
The #20 DEWALT car failed to finish any of the first seven races of 2020 inside the top 10; the next seven have netted three podiums and a fifth.
That includes back-to-back podiums on Sunday in Darwin, securing him fourth for the round.
“Phil has been great. He is a very theoretical thinker and for me, I’m probably more practical and that’s been something that has been a challenge to understand each other,” Pye said.
“First two events together we had radio dramas and that meant our communication was hindered a little bit but now I feel like we’re really talking the same language and we’re a lot more patient with each other.
“We’re starting to get more out of our own performance.”
Pye said their working relationship was now benefiting from trusting one another’s ability, allowing them to take risks in search of even better outcomes.
“I’m proud of him, the way he’s finding his confidence now with backing my race pace, backing my overtaking, taking some risks which maybe some more inexperienced engineers might be a little bit cautious of doing,” said Pye.
“He’s really backing his ability and that makes me smile.
“I love seeing people believe in themselves and take a risk because I believe we’re all here because we’re good at what we do and we shouldn’t second guess anything we do because I believe we’ll get it right more often than we get it wrong.
“So just trying to keep pushing Phil, he’s doing the same with me and it just seems to be starting to gel now.”
Although still a fan of the mixed tyre rules that shook up the field at the Truck Assist Sydney SuperSprint and BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown, Pye was glad to prove at the weekend his car pace was just as good – if not better – at a single compound event.
“For us to back that up, I guess if there was anyone that needed to be silenced, it probably proved that we had good pace and that’s why we got a podium last week [as well],” he said.
He’ll be out to continue his form at the NTI Townsville SuperSprint this weekend. Pye has a best finish of fifth at the street circuit, achieved in 2015.